Security and Development in the Asia Pacific and Europe Affects the Evolvement of International Order
09 September , 2022


On September 6, 2022, the Sub-Session on International Relations at the 6th Taihe Civilizations Forum (TCF) was held in Beijing. Over 100 expert invitees held in-depth and candid discussions on two topics: Great Power Competition, Regional Cooperation, and Asia-Pacific Security and Development, and the Changing European Security Landscape and Its Impact on the International Order. Key takeaways from TCF speakers from home and abroad are summarized as below.


Mr. Wu Hailong, President of China Public Diplomacy Association, noted that cooperation with China is the only wise choice for both the United States and other Western countries; China's development will bring opportunities to the whole world; China is neither "challenging" nor "threatening" the United States and other Western countries. Cooperation benefits all sides, while confrontation and conflict can only lead to failure for the provokers. The U.S. shifting its China positioning from "strategic partner" to the current "strategic competitor" is a serious strategic misjudgment. Moreover, US efforts to curb, exclude, isolate and diminish China through cliques and factions are doomed to fail and are conducive to neither the U.S. nor the rest of the world.


There is no fundamental conflict of interests, no historical disputes and no geo-strategic competition between China and Europe. Unfortunately, Europe has been led by the U.S. in its unwise China policy, and been influenced by the U.S. to develop a biased perception of China. Europe must give a fresh look at and develop its relationship with China from the perspective of its own interests, abandon its archaic Cold War mentality, and break the fetters of its social system and ideology.


H.E. Grigory Logvinov, Deputy Secretary-General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, pointed out that the Asia-Pacific region represents the growth point of the global economy. However, it is also plagued by global turmoil, as in the Euro-Atlantic region, where the Cold-War mentality featuring bloc confrontation is being reinforced and new ideological boundaries are being forcibly drawn. Against such a backdrop, the "Shanghai Spirit" of "mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for diverse civilizations and pursuit of common development" has been embraced by many countries in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. Ready to expand its membership, the SCO is actively exploring ways to resolve conflicts, and build a community of equality, mutual benefit and common prosperity. These agendas contribute to the growing global interest in the SCO. Concurrently, the SCO is scheduled to enhance political solidarity and strengthen foreign policy coordination among member states.


Mr. Stephen Orlins, President of the National Committee on United States-China Relations, claimed that the agreement reached among China Securities Regulatory Commission, the Ministry of Finance of China, and Public Company Accounting Oversight Board showed that, despite the difficulties facing China-U.S. relations, the two countries can cooperate on issues of mutual concern. China and the U.S. can cooperate on economy and people-to-people exchanges at a governmental level. For example, from the economics perspective, to return tariffs to the level prior to January 20, 2017, and stop the excessive use of the concept of "national security." As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Shanghai Communiqué, it is hoped that both China and the U.S. can replicate the wisdom of Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, Nixon and Kissinger, and push forward the state visit and public speech agenda of our two countries' leaders, in a bid to eliminate misunderstandings through candid communications and make the 21st century a more peaceful and prosperous one for all.


Mr. Cui Liru, President of China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, claimed that, with its hegemonic realism mindset, the U.S. defines China as its major rival, and this would not change despite changes of government. Since coming to power, Biden's policy on China has revealed that he is not going to extravagate his already limited political capital. One consequence of Biden's China policy approach has been Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan, which pushed the situation across the Taiwan Strait to the edge of crisis. Given that, China and U.S. should elevate the importance of risk management to a strategic level, focus on causal policies and pay special attention to preventing political manipulations.


Ms. Susan Thornton, Senior Fellow of the Paul Tsai China Center at Yale Law School, and former Acting Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, noted that despite China-U.S. relations navigating hard times, if troubles appeared in the Taiwan Strait, no country could benefit from them. China and U.S. should still solve the crisis through diplomatic approaches. By leveraging opportunities in multilateral platforms like APEC and the G20, both countries can schedule leaders' meetings, promote constructive communications, and push bilateral relations back on the right track.


Mr. Cheng Yonghua, Executive Vice President of the China-Japan Friendship Association, and former Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People's Republic of China to Japan, noted that the U.S. and other Western countries are striving to form cliques in the Asia-Pacific area, which imposes considerable negative influence on regional security. Many countries within the region have clearly expressed their strong intention of maintaining autonomous and balanced diplomacy to safeguard regional peace and stabilization. Under such a backdrop, relevant countries should follow the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, thus promoting a higher level of regional cooperation. China will continue its firm support of ASEAN centrality in regional cooperation, put the ideas of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness into action, and improve its ability to shape the neighboring environment.


H.E. Moin ul Haque, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to the People's Republic of China, claimed that competition itself is not a bad thing. Benign competition can promote cooperation, mutual learning and the sharing of technological progress, thus leading to greater achievements. However, competition can be problematic when it is aimed to exclude and contain others, or to realize one's absolute dominance at the expense of another's development. Currently, certain regional organizations and mechanisms, which take aim at China, have appeared in the Asia-Pacific region and exerted a significant challenge to regional security. In the last century, many Asia-Pacific countries worked together and proposed the principle of peaceful co-existence during the Bandung Conference. Today, these same countries should bear the same principles in mind.


Mr. Siddharth Chatterjee, UN Resident Coordinator in China, noted that world leaders will soon gather in New York for this year's Session, to take stock of our progress on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Yet, we remain beset by growing and interconnected global challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, existing and new conflicts, and rising inequalities. Global challenges require global solutions, found only through multilateralism. With the International Day for South-South Cooperation approaching on September 12, we are reminded that Global South countries, including those in Asia and the Pacific, can also combine their efforts to achieve sustainable development.


Mr. Dino R. Kusnadi, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in China, said that based on the common experiences of colonization and exploitation, Southeast Asian countries are committed to creating a peaceful and friendly environment to resolve their differences through communication and mutual understanding. To ensure the interests of regional countries and major powers, Indonesia and ASEAN kindly seek all sides' continued support to the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific which, among others, encompasses promotion of rule of law, peaceful settlement of disputes, and renunciation of the threat or use of force, with a view to further promoting amity and cooperation among countries in the Indo-Pacific region.


Mr. Rashid Alimov, Distinguished Fellow of Taihe Institute, and former Secretary-General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), stated that the main reason why the SCO and other regional organizations are able to attract countries within the region is that they are founded on the principles of partnership, mutual respect and mutual support. They do not position any country as an enemy or a threat, and they have no intention of imposing sanctions on any country or changing its domestic and foreign policies. Regional organizations such as the SCO, with a better understanding of the root causes of conflicts, can more effectively promote mutual trust and political dialogue at all levels and play a more prominent role in the evolution of the world from unipolar to multipolar.


Mr. Vladimir Lukin, Research Professor of National Research University Higher School of Economics and former Deputy Chairman of the State Duma, believes that soft power is not an invention of American scholars, but a tradition practiced in China for many years. Cooperation between China and other Asian countries is more constructive and China never crosses the red line. For the past two centuries, great power competition has brought endless wars to Europe. It is hoped that Asia will not repeat the mistakes of Europe, but will explore a new path to promote the sound development of both the international and regional order.


Mr. Liu Lanchang, Vice President of Hong Kong Wisdom and a senior media worker in Hong Kong, noted that globally, Europe is in a worsening situation, the United States still dominates the virtual economy, and the Asia-Pacific, which enjoys the world's most dynamic economy, is destined to be the focus of China-U.S. competition while Southeast Asia is undoubtedly a top priority. As a close partner, Hong Kong plays an irreplaceable role in linking the Chinese mainland with the Asia-Pacific region.


Dr. Hans-Peter Friedrich, Member and Former Vice President of the German Bundestag, said that Europe does not want to get involved in any kind of bipolar tussle. Europe wants the world to move towards a multipolar world, where the interests of China and the United States are guaranteed while the interests of Europe, Africa, South America and India are respected and balanced in a fair and normative framework. Europe should not be the front line of the confrontation between the two camps, but should play an active role in shaping the new world order as an impartial partner.


Mr. Shi Mingde, President of the China-Germany Friendship Association and former Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People's Republic of China to the Federal Republic of Germany, pointed out that although the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is a security issue for Europe, its impact has global ramifications. This has not only worsened the global economy, but also led to food and energy crises. A few countries have engaged in bloc confrontation, dividing the world into two camps and forcing other countries to take sides. The world is entering a new period of upheaval and adjustment, which features both unstable and uncertain factors. The international community is facing a series of major choices: multi-polarity or uni-polarity, cooperation or confrontation, trade freedom or trade protectionism, reform of the existing international system and institutions or to start over, and to jointly safeguard or restructure the global industrial chain.


H.E. Wim Geerts, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the People's Republic of China, said that the Russia-Ukraine conflict should not be ultimately resolved through military means. All parties concerned should have a sense of urgency and must sit down and hold open and candid discussions to ensure that peace, prosperity and development return to Europe. Moreover, Europe is open to such discussions and is ready to accept different voices. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China plays an important role on the international stage and should also join in the discussions.


Professor Ding Yifan, Senior Fellow of Taihe Institute, observed that Europeans once summarized the NATO mission as "keep the Soviet Union out, the Americans in, and the Germans down." After the end of the Cold War, the Russia threat decreased, the need for the United States to stay in Europe declined, and Germany could not accept a NATO that was simply designed to hold it down. Therefore, NATO's eastward expansion became a lifeline for the United States. Moreover, following the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the U.S. has managed to re-exert control over Europe. Caught up in the passion of being "politically correct," the Europeans blindly followed the U.S., ending its decades-long energy cooperation with Russia, and propelled itself into an economic plight. Meanwhile, the previous Franco-German centered union has become fractured, making it even more susceptible to US machinations.


Mr. Sun Yongfu, Senior Fellow of Taihe Institute and former Director General of European Affairs Department of Ministry of Commerce, said that over the past years, China and the European Union were each other's most important trading partners. Despite the negative impact of the pandemic and differing ideologies, the bilateral trade between China and the EU still demonstrates a strong posture for development. The sound growth of bilateral trade and investment indicates that China-EU economic and trade relations have a solid foundation and are complementary to each other. This is especially so in the emerging fields of low carbon, renewable energy and electric vehicles, where the two sides have vast cooperative possibilities. It is hoped that both sides will exclude external interference, focus on cooperation, manage differences, stabilize the supply and industrial chains, and jointly promote the recovery and development of their economies and the global economy.


Ms. Men Jing, Senior Fellow of Taihe Institute and Distinguished Professor at the Institute of Politics and International Relations of East China Normal University, observed that the Russia-Ukraine conflict has pushed the EU into disorder. The continuous impacts of an energy crisis, inflation, and a refugee crisis have exhausted the EU, causing conflicts within and among member states to surface. The EU may descend into an even more chaotic status if they cannot make it through the next winter.

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